School mask mandate infuriates some parents, critical for some officials

Built in the Bay

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(ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif.) While state leaders are poised to announce the lifting of school mask mandates sometime early this week, the existing rule, which is still in place despite the state lifting the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people, is angering some parents.

Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly noted that masks are the most effective way to combat the spread of COVID-19 and reduce transmission.

Some parents and physicians, however, are pushing back on this claim.

"No one is saying that masks are going to be banned in schools," Megan Bacigalupi, whose sons are in Oakland Unified School District, told the East Bay Times. "If staff or students or parents want their child to wear a well-fitting mask, they can continue to do so. But for those whose health risks are different, they should be able to send their kids to school without a mask."

Many of the parents who feel similarly to Bacigalupi have rallied online behind a movement called the "urgency of normal" that seeks to make masks optional after mid-February.

“The effectiveness of adult masking in reducing transmission of COVID-19 is modest at best, and in children, it’s not there at all,” Noble said. “We should not expect to see increases in school transmissions from removing the mask mandate.”

In a counter to the online campaign put forward by parents, some physicians and parents started the "urgency of equity" online campaign, which argues that the threat of COVID-19 to students is still high and as such, mask mandates should be maintained until vaccination rates are higher and case rates are lower.

"Calls for an urgent 'normal' skim glibly past health equity considerations and potential harms to those most vulnerable to COVID," Dr. Esther Choo said on Twitter.

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